அருள் தருவான் அமைகின்றான் அது நமது விதிவகையே
இருள்தருமா ஞாலத்துள் இனிபிறவி யான் வேண்டேன்
மருளொளி நீ மடநெஞ்சே வாட்டாற்றான் அடி வணங்கே.
வாட்டாற்றா னடிவணங்கி மாஞாலப் பிறப் பறுப்பான்
கேட்டாயே மடநெஞ்சே கேசவனெம் பெருமானை
பாட்டாய பலபாடி பழ வினைகள் பற்றறுத்து
நாட்டாரோ டியல் வொழிந்து நாரணனை நண்ணினமே.
The above pasurams are part of the 11 pasurams sung by Nammalvar in praise of Adi Kesava Perumal in Tiruvattar. The drive from Kanyakumari to Tiruvattar is along green paddy fields, coconut groves, rubber plantations, streams, rivers, fishermen fishing in their catamarans in the backwaters. The beauty of Kanyakumari district takes your breath away. Tiruvattar is a village 46 km. from Kanyakumari.
Alternately, Driving along NH 7 and then NH 47 on the Kanyakumari-Trivandrum highway take a detour and turn right on to the Colachel-Tiruvattar road at a place called Azaghiyamandapam. Tiruvattar is at a distance of 7 km. from here.
The temple of Sri Adi Kesava Perumal in Tiruvattar is in a picturesque setting, rich with dense vegetation. The Paraliyaru flows around the temple on three sides which gives the place its name-Tiru vattaru. The temple is on an elevation. The main entrance faces west. We climb a flight of 18 steps to enter the temple. Inside there are huge corridors (Prakarams). The pillars here are rich with sculptures. At the base of each pillar there are images of maidens carrying lamps. They are called Deepa lakshmi and there are 224 in all. No two are the same!
Inside the main shrine, the platform in front of Garba Graha and where the deity rests are both carved out of a single stone and hence called as Othakkal Mantapam. This Mantapam is rich in sculptures and mural paintings.
Ghee and oil lamps light up the inner Garba Graha. We are taken unawares in that first glimpse of the Lord. For a moment we are spell bound- the reclining image of the Lord is huge! We worship the Lord through three openings, the lord’s feet , then the lord’s right hand which is in Chin mudra and lastly His face, so serene and beautiful. Through the central opening we also see the Thayars, Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi seated near the Lord, and the Utsava murthy. An image of Maharishi Hathaneya is seen near the head of the Lord. There is a Shiva lingam near the feet (paadam) of the Lord.
On the wall behind there are deities carved within circles. The priest explains that they are the deities of the Panchayuda (five weapons) of Lord Vishnu.There is no Brahma or lotus on the nabi of Perumal. It is believed that those who worship Adi Kesava Perumal will have no future births.
On leaving the main Shrine we worship next at a small temple to Tiruvampadi Sri Krishna built in the 12th century.
There are references to Tiruvattaru in ancient Sangam literature called Puranaanooru that dates back to more than 2000 years. In it a Sangam poet named Maangudi Kizhar (மாங்குடி கிழார்) writes about a kuru nila mannan (king)named Vattaatru Ezhiniyaadhan (வட்டாற்று எழினியாதன்).
There are stone inscriptions from the reign of Kulothunga Chola I.
Nammalvar has sung paasurams in praise of the Lord.
The Sthalapuranam of this temple is written in Malayalam and Sanskrit.
Once when Brahma conducted a yagna, he mispronounced some mantras, as a result of which, a demon arose from the yagna flames. His name was Kesan. Since he was evil, Adi Kesava Perumal confined him within the massive coils of Adi Seshan and the Lord lay down on top to prevent his escape.Kesan was a Shivabhaktan.So a Sivalingam was placed near the feet of Adi Kesava Perumal in order to control him.Still, Kesan tried to come out of the coils, so the Lord placed a Rudraksha in each of the demon’s 12 hands. They turned into 12 temples to Lord Shiva. These are the 12 Shiva temples around Tiruvattaru that are worshipped during the famous Shivalaya Ottam.
What is unique about this temple
- This is one of the oldest Vaishnava temples in South India.
- Vaishnava Saint Nammalvar has sung 11 Pasurams about Adi Kesava Perumal- (Pasuram 3722-3732).
- This is the 76th Divyadesam of the 108 tirupathis and 2nd among the Malai naatu shrines.
- The temple is a jewel in temple Architecture.
- The moola vigraha is a massive 22 feet in length.It is made up of 16008 salagramas using a method known as Kadu Sarkara Yogam that is unique to Kerala. This is an extremely complicated process and very different from sculpting. Therefore there is no abhishekam for the moolavar.
Adi Kesava Perumal is considered to be the ‘Annan’ (elder brother) of Anantapadmanabhaswamy. Devotees on a pilgrimage are advised to worship Adi Kesavava Perumal before worshipping Padmanabhaswamy.
The Othakal Mandapam measuring 18 x 18 x 1 feet is an architectural marvel.
Importance of the temple to the Tiruvithangode (Travancore) kingdom
Present day Kanyakumari District was part of the Tiruvithangode Travancore kingdom. Up to the reign of King Marthanda Varma, the kings of Travancore ruled from Padmanabhapuram (15 km.from Tiruvattar). King Marthanda Varma was a staunch devotee of Adi Kesava Perumal and worshipped at the temple before all the major war campaigns undertaken by him. It was Dharma Raja, the nephew and successor of Marthanda Varma who shifted the capital to Tiruvananthapuram. In view of the above facts we are better able to understand the intriguing association of Padmanabhaamy temple with the temple of Adi Kesava Perumal.
Tiruvananthapuram temple is an exact replica of Tiruvattar temple. The images of Adi Kesava Perumal and Padmanabhaswamy are installed in such a way that they face each other. Adi Kesava Perumal faces west while Padmanabhaswamy faces east
. Poojas are according to the procedures followed in Kerala temples.
Paal Payasam, Aval and Appam are delicious prasadams at this temple.
There are 12 Shiva temples around Tiruvattar. They are the temples at Munchirai, Thikkurichi, Thirparappu, Tirunandikkarai, Ponmanai, Pannippakam, Kalkulam, Melangodu, Tiruvidaikodu, Tiruvithankodu, Tirupanrikkodu, and Nattalam.On Mahasivarathri day starting from Munchirai, devotees from Kerala and Tamil-nadu run to all the above temples, chanting ‘Gopala, Govinda’ and reach Nattalam by nightfall. The ritual ends in worship at the Adi Kesava Perumal temple in Tiruvattar. The marathon of pilgrims on Mahasivarathri uttering the names of Lord Vishnu substantiates the truth that Siva and Vishnu are but two manifestations of the one Supreme Being.
There is a small temple for Lord Lakshminarasimha near the river and opposite to the Adi Kesava Perumal temple. Inside this temple there are Panchaloga images of Narasimha swamy, Lord Subramanya and Sri Annapoorani kept together on the same peetam.
Morning: 5a.m. to 12p.m.
Evening: 5p.m. to 8 p.m.
Note: As renovation work is under way in the Adi Kesava Perumal temple, the temple closes earlier in the mornings on weekdays. On Sundays there are lots of visitors to the temple and the renovation workers are on holiday. So the temple is open until 12 p.m.